Once again, tradition continues at the University of Nevada, Reno, as Professor Anna Camp's and Professor Francine Melia's introduction to cultural anthropology classes won 28 awards from the Public Anthropology's fall 2012 Community Action Project.
Each year, students research and write about an issue of pressing ethical concern. This year, University students competed against about 3,600 students from 25 schools writing about research regulations through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Institutional Revenue Board processes. The students read case studies, and then wrote essays discussing how Institutional Review Boards (in the U.S.) and/or Review Ethics Boards (in Canada) should enforce a set of common rules regarding research.
The awards are given by the Center for a Public Anthropology, a non-profit organization that encourages students to address problems publicly. The writing award is part of their Community Action Project, which encourages students to consider ethical issues in anthropology. University Professor Erin Stiles' and Professor Deborah Boehm's introduction to cultural anthropology classes took home 30 awards for the same project in fall 2011.
"This is an opportunity for students at various universities to use the internet to speak out and join together into an intellectual community," Camp said. "The project encourages students to contemplate ethical issues in anthropology and the contemporary world. Participating helps students improve both their critical thinking and writing skills."
After writing the essays, students submit them online and each essay receives a score based on anonymous peer evaluations. They then have the option of submitting the essays to appropriate legislators and policymakers. This year, award winning students included Jessica Marquez, Sierra Smith, Christina Chen, Alemnesh Masebo, Justine Cawthorne, Brittany Smith, Aaron Arlt, Kyle Brazil, Brian Anderson, Kyler Cameron, Jordan Barron, Whitney Littlefield, and Kelli Wuerfel, Darcie Latham, Eric Wylie, Alex Johns, Kristen Pahl, Averill Moser, Mark Farthing, Elayna Winter, John Lester, Amanda Vranken, Zach Harvey, Kirstie Greyce Terrobias, Bryce Salasky, Taylor Morris, Kelsey Quintos, and Alexandra Alvarado.
The top 5 percent of essays with the best scores are then reviewed by the director of the Public Anthropology Project, Robert Borofsky, who determines the award winners.
The Center for a Public Anthropology organization encourages scholars and their students to address public problems in public ways. The Public Anthropology's Community Action Project website seeks to provide students with key skills to be successful in their future careers, such as objectivity, critical thinking and effective communication. The project encourages critical thinking regarding ethical issues in anthropology, a sharing of ideas among students from different universities, and improved writing skills.
The essays from Camp's class and the essays from Melia's class can be read at the Center for Public Anthropology's website.